A DAD'S JOURNAL
Week 21- Jan 30 - Feb 5 Week: Civil Rights and City Sights
We started the week with a distinctly different flavor of Southern Baptist church compared to our experience worshiping with the all-black congregation in Port Arthur Texas. The generally older, all-white congregation was just as friendly and welcoming. The worship was traditional and the pastor’s message fit right in with lessons about living a life free of fear we have been sharing with our kids.
The weather was beautiful all weekend and Sunday afternoon we stayed around home enjoying being outside and taking some leisurely walks. Nate and I discovered a historic Creole chapel down the road past our RV Park. The tiny church is always kept open for people to come in at any time.
As Nate and I were walking, we got a call from our traveling family friends the Goldfines. It turned out they were coming our way and would be going right past our campsite late in the afternoon. They were going to stop at a truck stop for the night as they headed to Auburn, so instead they decided to stay at our park. We worked it out as a surprise for our girls when they arrived. Everyone enjoyed the special treat of seeing our friends once again, and we all enjoyed a campfire marshmallow roast!
Monday morning we parted company once again, as always hoping to meet another place sometime during our adventure. As we had escaped the rains to this point, the weather met us in style us as we arrived in Montgomery. It rained all night and we thought Harvey just might float away. By the time we were done with schooling in the morning though, the rains temporarily let up for our afternoon bus tour of Montgomery.
The tour was on a 1950’s bus of the same year and model that Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to give up her seat, starting the modern civil rights movement. We left from the beautifully restored Union Station. The twenty five cent bus fare took us on a tour that gave us a good overview to help us decide which attractions would win our limited time in the area.
We were the only ones on our tour of Dexter Avenue Baptist Church. Dexter is the church where Martin Luther King preached and led the famous bus boycott after Rosa Parks was arrested. The church is literally in view of the Capitol just a block down the wide main street where the marches and demonstrations took place. Our visit to the Rosa Parks museum helped fill in the history in an interactive way.
The other educational history opportunity in this area is in the area of the Civil War. We visited the first Whitehouse of the Confederacy in Montgomery. Jefferson Davis and his family lived there until Virginia seceded the Union and the Confederate capital was moved to Richmond. While the 150 year-old historical artifacts seemed old, we realized that as we get to New England that will seem like nothing! One evening, we went to the movie National Treasure which started whetting our appetites for Revolutionary War period history.
We have been curious about the Confederate flag as we have gotten into the deep south. It is still common to see it flying, even at public buildings… We have asked several local people why, and we have gotten quite a range of answers from not knowing why, to southern pride, to lingering rebellion or racism.
The flag itself has different versions. The first flag was called the “Stars and Bars”. It had a circle of seven stars on a blue field like the field on the Union Flag and three wide bars in place of the Union stripes. Unfortunately from afar it was too much like the Union flag and caused confusion on the battlefield. The flag we see today as the Confederate flag was actually a military flag. The second Confederate Flag was white with the military flag design just in the top corner. This one too was a failure because the flag, when not completely extended, looked like a white surrender flag! The final national flag added a big red vertical bar on the end to make a flag that I would never have guessed was the true Confederate flag.
We headed to Georgia on Thursday where we planned to spend the better part of a week at my cousin Deanna and her husband Ken’s home. I have been looking forward to this meeting, especially for our kids’ sake, since the Sparks have three kids of similar age- two girls and a boy! As we entered Georgia, we immediately saw remnants of the ice storm that we had so conveniently missed while in southern Alabama, and as we arrived at our destination, the gray weather of the past couple of days evaporated away!
We drove into Atlanta a couple of times the last part of the week. We took the CNN Studios tour on Friday. I always find what goes on behind the scenes in any business very interesting. Nate got to be the commentator reading the teleprompter for our tour group. An interesting example of how news travels nowadays was that only four minutes after the Tsunami hit, CNN had a breaking news story on air!
Other Atlanta experiences included, a stroll through the Olympic Park and later the World of Coke museum with my cousin’s family. The Coke museum was interesting with an incredible amount of memorabilia, an old soda fountain, and finally a tasting area where you could taste Coke products from around the world. Some products are positively vile! I had a little bit of a problem paying surprisingly hefty admission to immerse my family in propaganda for a couple of hours, but am still glad we went. (After all, I too work for a marketing driven company…)
We also enjoyed just being around a home with family for a few days. Ken and I worked on a couple of projects on the weekend afternoons. The kids, being cousins-once-removed, quickly became good friends on this, their first meeting.